Saturday, May 30, 2009

Got Toxic Sunscreen? We Did.

Yesterday I visited the dermatologist, first time in over four years. She reviewed my skin care regime (pretty basic, Cetaphil cleanser followed by Oil of Olay with sunscreen) and made a few recommendations. But more importantly she got me up to speed on sunscreen.

She told me that sunscreen is not regulated by the FDA and that they have failed to create mandatory safety standards to protect our health. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) did some independent testing and discovered that numerous sunscreens either are not nearly as effective as claimed (not really SPF 15 etc) or worse contain the toxic chemicals Oxybenzone or Benzophenone-3 which when absorbed by the skin can cause allergies and hormone problems.

Their findings state that 'of nearly 1,000 name brand sunscreens, only 1 of 5 provided adequate protection from both UVA & UVB radiation with few ingredients link to known or suspected health hazards'. In fact EWG states that fewer than 5% of Coppertone, Neutrogena and Banana Boat products are recommended as safe and effective. Are you as shocked as I am?

I went through our sunscreen stash and found that all but one of our sunscreens contained these offending chemicals, even the 'name brand' sunscreens as the EWG states. See the bad guys above. Banana Boat Baby was our lone toxin free sunscreen but is it effective?

Now that I am aware I want to share the information. Dr. Dano gave me a handout with the Top 10 Sunscreen recommendations by the EWG that I transcribed for you below.

1. Blue Lizard (anything without oxybenzone)
2. California Baby (anything with SPF 30+)
3. CVS with zinc oxide
4. Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock
5. Kiss My Face "Parabin Free" series
6. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock
7. Olay Defense Daily UV Moisturizer (with zinc)
8. SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense
9. Solar Sense Clear Zinc for Face
10. Walgreens Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose & Ears

  • SPF 30 or higher for best protection
  • At least 7% zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for broad spectrum protection
This news comes to me right on the heels of finishing the book 'The Unhealthy Truth' by Robyn O'Brian (also recommended by a dermatologist slash friend, Dr. Renee Synder) which uncovers the failings of the FDA to protect our food supply and details the disturbing ties between the FDA and large food corporations and subsequent sketchy approvals. So you can guess that I am less than enchanted with our government right now.

Grab Robyn's book if you have a chance. Or check back as I'll be posting more on her book later, with a summary of commons foods and additives that many prominent scientist and other government agencies consider unsafe as well as a few ideas from the author on how we can make small improvements in what we feed our children and reap big benefits.


I just checked out the EWG website and looked up the safety of several products I use regularly.
  • Cetaphil facial cleanser had a 7 high hazard level rating(on a scale from 1 to 10). And the packaging says 'Mild enough to cleanse a baby's delicate skin'
  • Purpose cleanser (recommended by my Dr as a replacement to Cetaphil) had a 4 or moderate hazard level rating.
  • Oil of Olay complete all day moisture lotion had a 4 or moderate hazard level rating.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


My shaggy boys got hair cuts today. I try to stretch the hair cuts to every two months, but Will's probably should be cut every month it grows so quickly. His bangs were about to cover his eyes. Carmen has been gently reminding me for a few weeks now.

Two handsome boys enjoying their after haircut cookie treat.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Lily took a tumble today at the playground and split her chin open on the steps of the play scape. Our ER visit was quite an ordeal, she was terrified and would not cooperate. They came very close to putting her under but in the end gave her some sedation and held her down for her four stitches. Daddy arrived just in time for the gory part, if he was ever a bit squeamish he has certainly gotten over that through being a dad. He was very brave and helped Lily stay as calm as possible. Our nurse confessed that he was exhausted after our visit.

It was a decent sized gash and pretty deep, just under her chin.

Afterwards we treated her to yogurt with mom and dad and all the toppings she wanted - chocolate with M and M's, chocolate chips and heath bar crunch, nice choice.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lazy Days of Summer

Yes, I've been going a little nuts with my new Flip video camera that David got me for mother's day.

**Swim Update**

It is official, we have three new swim lovers. We took them to their grandparent's pool yesterday and they all were eager to swim. Surprisingly, Evan, who was still a little reluctant on the last day of class, was the most eager and could not get enough. He even jumped in the pool to swim to us a few times on his own. We had to force him to take breaks and rest because he just didn't want to stop swimming.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Swim Graduates!

We have three swim champs!

Today was the last day of class and Gwen had us get in the pool with the kids. Having David and I in the pool gave them a lot of confidence.

Will was eager to get swimming today and couldn't get enough.

Lily was a bit reluctant but eventually eased over to the pool and was interested. There was still a bit of fear but she was having fun and doing great.

Evan had to be cornered to get in the pool. More tears today but halfway through his class he started enjoying himself and in between sobs wanted more swims. He even jumped in the pool on his own accord a few times.

Even Holden had a go, Gwen says he is definitely ready to swim, he was kicking and pushing through the water.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Big Boy Swimmer

Lily and Evan had another rough swim lesson day. Evan swam well but was was fighting it. Lily was particularly unhappy and tired as she isn't feeling well.

The kids watched Will's swim video before class and I think that gave Will an extra boost of confidence. He turned the corner today and was actually enjoying himself. He was very proud, we were too. Look at him go...he has a cute scoot to his swim but is able to power through and propel through the water.

Not that Will's day was seamless, he had a pretty bad fall when attempting to jump in the pool and turn at the same time. It took him a little bit of time to get the courage to jump back in the pool by himself but he eventually did get back on that horse.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sink or Swim

Evan swimming to Gwen. She says he has a swimmer's body.

Lily floating on her own.

Will swiming to grab rings on the steps which he found exciting and terrifying at the same time.

We started a week long intensive swim lesson course this week for the trips with Gwen Hurst. It has been traumatic for everyone, lots of tears and everyone has vomited copious amounts of water. But we have persisted, here we are having completed the third day and everyone is already swimming on their own. Today was particularly rough because she had them jump (or rather pulled them) into the pool from the side and they had to come up and swim to the side and pull themselves out all on their own. They all did it successfully.

Not all are happy about it. They have all told me that they don't want to swim, 'it is too scarey mommy.' As you can see in our videos, Evan is still terrified but swimming well, probably the best of the three. Lily was all nerves holding her tummy saying it hurt today before class but is doing well. Will switched over from terrified to being scared but having a little pride of success today. He told me 'mommy, take my picture', in between yelps.

I can't say I love this method, but all the parents I have talked to say by the last day the kids are swimming and happy and the parents are glad they stuck it out. Our kids are all climbers and our neighbors have a pool so I do feel some urgency to get them at a basic survival skill level of swimming as soon as possible. Also, our park pool opens this weekend and it will be a lot more fun for them and us if they have some swim skills. Although I found out today that Carmen doesn't know how to swim. I may be signing her up next...

Will 'Just Like Nemo'

Evan 'Will Someone Save Me'
(warning: not a happy camper)

Learning to Swim

This week the kids began a week-long swimming bootcamp that would make Dick Chaney proud. Day 1 sounded like waterboard torture. Now at Day 3 they are starting to make waves.

Lily works on the back float safety technique.

Will jumps in from the side.

Evan tags the instructor during his first game of Marco Polo.

Check video of Will here.

Three peas in a pod

Lily is fortunate to have two good friend in Harper and Lucy. Here she enjoys spending girl time with them on the Ramsey Park courts where matching shoes are optional.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mile high

Holden takes his time adjusting to the Denver altitude.

The rest of the crew gets its ice cream on back in the ATX. Just like Bill Cosby -- daddy's great, givin' us chocolate cake.

Hey dad, ever hear of a thing called "a bib"?

Jennifer and Holden visit Julie

Holden is becoming quite the good traveler. He slept the entire flight to Denver.

David is home alone with Will, Evan, and Lily for a couple of days. All going well so far!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Paradise Found

Yes, we are back. I'm way behind on my blogging. But we had a wonderful time and didn't go a moment too soon as now travel to Mexico is strongly discouraged due to the swine flu. That on top of the drug war violence must be tragic for all those who depend on the tourist industry.

Tulum is a jem a bit off the beaten path, with everything you would expect in a paradise, white sandy beaches, crystal clear ocean and beach huts steps from the water's edge. Maya Tulum where we stayed was particularly tranquil as it is a wellness and yoga retreat.

We were able to unwind and spend a few leisurely days. Now we are back home going full speed. I'm trying to type this while making breakfast and distracting the kids from pulling everything out of the kitchen cabinets.